In 2009, Eileen Zhang, who had a dream to be a fashion designer when she was a little girl, opened her first shop, a brand of luxury activewear in Toronto. As a busy mom, Eileen created this brand for the on the go woman who needs to look and feel great at all times.
Fast forward to 2015… Titika Activewear had opened 9 stores within Ontario and expanded its online sales to the US, China and other countries. Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Eileen and her marketing team as a DM consultant. I witnessed Titika’s online sales grew at a steady pace. In just two short years, Titika went from zero to $5 million online sales shipping globally. Titika is one of the 500 fastest growing Canadian companies. It has been featured in BBC News, National Post, Tribute, the Star and popular TV shows.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
If you plan to sell online, congratulations! If you have already been selling online, great!
No matter where you are, this presentation is going to help you grow your online business to the next level. I’ll use Titika examples throughout the presentation so that you know how they become so successful.
First, let’s take a look at the big picture . . .
In 2015, the apparel and accessories category was the top-selling e-commerce category in the U.S. for the first time. Online apparel sales in the U.S. are projected to increase its revenue from 63.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2019 according to Statista.com.
Ranked as #8 global markets with the highest online shopping penetration, Canada’s eCommerce market shows strong sign of growth. According to eMarketer, Canadian online retail sales are projected to grow from 25.37 billion Canadian dollars in 2014 to 49.67 billion Canadian dollars in 2019. Fashion is the leading category.
The fast growing online sales has been a catalyst in transforming the apparel retail sector. Many brands like Titika have added e-Commerce components to the traditional retail experience.
For small and mid-size businesses, expanding your businesses online can be challenging due to the complexity of digital marketing, limited resources and expertise.
You probably know how overwhelming it can be with the massive information on how to market online. There are so many ways and channels to be taken care of – social media, blogging, paid advertising, SEO, email marketing, video marketing, just to name a few. It seems that you have to be the Jack of all trades in this dynamic digital world. What worked six months ago may not work now. Maybe you have a small team to handle all the online activities, but you still feel that you can’t get all the dots connected. There’s always a missing piece.
Before you had your website, you thought, “I can sell on-line once my website is up and running.” Now that you have your website up and running, you realize that a website alone won’t do anything. You need to drive traffic to your website! When you have traffic, you notice that those clicks don’t automatically convert into sales. It comes back to your website again! Your website needs to be optimized. Social media is super-hot, but those likes and fans aren’t equal to sales. There is still a gap to fill.
Your website is the starting point of your online marketing. It is where online transactions are finalized. All your online marketing effort (SEO, social media, PPC . . .) is to bring people to your website. Having an optimized website that works collaboratively with your SEO, social media, email marketing and paid advertising is paramount to taking your online business to the next level.
Based on more than 10 years’ experience of providing digital marketing services and training to small and mid-sized businesses, I’m going to show you how to optimize your website to get more out of your online marketing. Yes, it means more leads and more sales. I will also share with you a framework to help you develop an effective online marketing strategy that you can adapt to seize this unprecedented opportunity in the digital age.
Your website is the virtual storefront of your online business. Your potential customers expect to see information about your products or services, your special offers, what other customers say about you. An effective and optimized website helps you attract targeted visitors, educate them and convert them into leads and sale.
Unfortunately many websites are totally useless!
Are you spending tens of thousands of dollars in paid advertising . . . or hundreds of hours trying to drive traffic to a website that doesn’t convert?
If you answered yes, you know the result is usually disappointing.
Before you spend the precious marketing dollars and time promoting your business online, WORK on your website.
Titika’s website was launched on March 2014. They’ve spent tremendous effort on their website. Now it is the 3rd version. Each version is a leap from the previous one. If you have a website, it is time to re-examine and optimize it!
Here are 5 essential elements you need to work on in order to turn your website into a lead magnet and sales machine:
Search engine optimization
For eCommerce sites, SEO is one of the major ways to get traffic. Let’s talk about SEO best practices.
Use keyword tools to find the most relevant keywords to your product and insert them in your web page’s title and meta description. Try to use long tail keywords in your product page.
You need to check each product page to make sure proper title and meta description are used. It is a lot of work and time-consuming. But it is definitely worthwhile. Titika uses their staff to optimize the product pages. This year they’ve seen 50% increase of organic traffic compared to 2015.
A smarter way is to take the 80/20 rule approach. Check your eCommerce and Google Analytics reports to find out the product pages bringing you the most sales and work on them first. After that you can work on the rest of your product pages.
If you have been running Google Adwords campaigns for a while, you will have a list of keywords that convert well. You can either create new content or optimize existing content for those keywords.
b) Use search engine friendly URL
Make sure you configure permalink setting to create search engine friendly product page urls. It helps the search engines and visitors know what your page is about. You can use the following structures for product pages.
Product page: YourDomain.com/category/sub-category/product-name/
BTW, images are searchable on Google. Using proper image meta tags not only help the image rank higher on Google’s image search result pages to get free traffic, but also improve the overall search engine optimization of your product page.
c) Build quality backlinks to your website
A backlink is an incoming link from other website pointing to your website. Strong backlinks help you boost Google ranking. However, many websites just do not have a decent number of quality backlinks.
There are many ways to build backlinks pointing to your website. For example, add your website url in your social media profiles, sharing your content on social media, do guest blogging on authority sites in your industry, use press release, etc.
Keep in mind, SEO is an on-going process. It is not something you do it once and forget about it. You need to do it regularly to maintain your rankings for organic searches and discover new keywords for ranking. It is a slower path compared to paid advertising. However you will be rewarded in the long term.
Site Usability and Content
Site usability is the ease of use of a website. Content is the digital bait online. It is the great content that attracts your target audience, engage your potential customers and set you apart from your competitors. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Navigation – easy and clear
Can visitors navigate easily on your website without any confusion and distraction?
Titika has improved online shopping experience by optimizing user navigation bar by focusing on their users’ needs. You can choose to browse their online store by Tops, Bottoms, Casuals or Accessories, or by Activities, Fabric and Print. They also walk an extra mile to add the size chart for each style to help shoppers choose the right size.
- Mobile responsive – accessible
Mobile and tablet users have far surpassed desktop users. Is your website mobile responsive? If not, it is time to revamp it!
- Fresh content – clear, concise, interesting, entertaining and educational
People search online looking for answers to their questions. Does your content answer their questions? Is your content interesting, educational and entertaining? Does your content have a unique voice that represents your brand? Google loves fresh original content. Having a blog section for your eCommerce site helps you target more long tail keywords that are related to your products. Though the content is created for your target audience, try to follow the SEO best practices to satisfy search engines so that you build your organic traffic by blogging.
- About Us – Authentic and trustworthy
Do you have a unique “About Us” page to tell visitors who you are, your origin story, what you do, why you do what you do and how you can help them? Use “About Us” to build connection with your audience. Because people buy from people they know, like and trust.
- Testimonials – Personal and creditable
Do you have a testimonial page showcasing what your customers say about your products? Testimonials are social proof to your credibility. A powerful testimonial often tells a personal story that shows how the product or service helps the person. It is easier to get into your potential customer’s heart than a sales pitch
The bottom line. . . your website is to help visitors find what they want and make a buying decision.
Social media is one of the key components of your online marketing mix. It helps you connect with your customers and reach your target audience. Titika’s Facebook fan base increased from a little more than 6000 in 2015 to over 100K fans this year. 50% of their website traffic is from social media!
Take a look at your website, do you have social media section on your home page for people to connect with you? Do you have social media sharing button on your product pages or blog posts for people to share your content with their friends?
It is good to acquire more fans and interact with them on social media. It is even better to get them on your mailing list. Let’s talk about list building.
There are more than 10 billion websites online. Check your Google Analytics, you will find the majority of the visitors only stay on your website for a few seconds. Most likely, they will never come back again. We all know it takes an average of 7 interactions before a buyer makes a buying decision. So it is vitally important to build your email list by capturing visitors’ email addresses for email marketing. Remember, you are in a business to build your list.
A popup optin form with irresistible offer is very effective in capturing emails.
Most of Titika’s email subscribers were captured by the popup optin form. By driving traffic from social media to their website, they have successfully increased their mailing list size by 50% this year.
Once you have your email list, it is time to use email marketing to follow up with your prospects and existing customers. Email marketing is by far the most effective ways to generate online sales. Like most popular brands, Titika sends out email broadcast of their promotions and new arrivals 1-2 per week. Email marketing contributes 30% of their online sales.
As more and more retailers are using email marketing, how to stand out from the crowd is a challenge to many businesses including Titika. The answer is back to content creation. It is your message that separate you from other brands.
Landing pages optimization
A landing page is a page on your website mainly used for online advertising or promotion. The sole purpose of a landing page is to capture leads or direct the visitor to the shopping cart page. All landing pages are web pages, but not all web pages are landing pages.
If you are disappointed by the conversion of your paid advertising, work on your landing page.
Here are 4 simple ways to optimize your landing page:
- Headline and content
People land on your landing page from different sources. The first thing a visitor wants to know is that she is at the right place. Use attention-grabbing headline and concise content to tell her “You are at the right place!”
- Irresistible offer
If you have free shipping, free returns or discounts as your offer on the landing page, you get your visitor hooked right away.
Your landing page is an extension of your Google Adwords ad copy. The closer your landing page matches your ads, the higher conversion rate you get. Plus, Google will reward you with higher Quality Score. It can lower the cost of your bidding keywords.
- Clear Call to action
For eCommerce sites, “Add to Bag” or “Add to Cart” are your main call to actions. Make sure you have those buttons handy. If your goal is to have people join your mailing list, use “Get on the list” and “Sign Up Now” etc.
The visits to your website decrease as your landing page load time increases. Make sure your landing page load quickly. https://tools.pingdom.com/ is a free tool to test the load time of your landing page and identify the issues to be fixed.
To recap, I’ve covered how to optimize your website from search engine optimization, usability and content, social media, listing building and landing page optimization. If you follow this list, you will have an effective and high converting website that lays a solid foundation for your online business.
But there is one more thing . . .
Do you still remember all the points I just shared with you? Do you feel lost? That’s OK.
There is one more thing I want to share with you before I finish . . .
Digital marketing covers a wide spectrum of areas – social media, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), PPC, email marketing, and video marketing etc. Over the years, we’ve created an effective yet easy-to-follow system to help you organize different online marketing components into a framework. The acronym of this system is W.E.L.C.O.M.E.
“W” stands for website – build an optimized website with great content
“E” stands for email marketing – use email marketing to follow up with people on your list.
“L” stands for landing Page – create landing pages with irresistible offers.
“C” stands for Copywriting – apply copywriting techniques to increase conversion.
“O” stands for Offer – craft offers people can’t resist.
“M” stands for massive targeted traffic – Deploy the best traffic strategies to bring targeted traffic to your business.
“E” stands for entrepreneurial Spirit – Be inspired to build your online business with passion, positivity, creativity, leadership and become the best you can be.
The WELCOME System provides a framework for you to develop an effective online marketing strategy so that you won’t forget those points. It helps you focus your time and resources on the most profitable activities. If you do not have your in-house digital marketing team to implement the WELCOME system, hiring an experienced digital marketing agency to do the heavy lifting is the most cost-effective way to take your online business to the next level.
Roman was not built in one day. Building an optimized website is an on-going process. You will reap the benefit in the long run. In just about 2 years, Titika’s online sales went from zero to 5 million globally. If they can do it, you too can do it!
Need help with your website and digital marketing strategy? Book 1-hour free consultation with me. I would be glad to help 🙂
*** Mary Wang gave this speech at Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada (ATSC) show in 2016, now Canada’s largest apparel, textile and fashion event. For more information about 2017 show, visit ApparelTextileSourcing.com. ***
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